My time in Japan has been a lot of fun, lots of good food and lots of interesting experience. Before I move on to talk about airport and shopping, I want to share some memorable moments I had while traveling in Japan.

1. Sir, Are You Backpacking?

(Photo: I am definitely not a backpacker on this trip XD)

First afternoon when I just arrived at Narita Airport,  I randomly started chatting with a young guy who is also from America while waiting for the train. The guy was visiting his girlfriend who’s working temporary in the country. It was his first time in Japan, and unfortunately because there was a huge typhoon, his transfer flight to Nagano was canceled. His girlfriend ordered he to find any way possible to get to Nagano, and he was brave enough to take the challenge and ordered Shinkansen tickets with no Japanese language speaking ability. Just as we were chatting away and I was impressed by how he is willing to travel all the way to visit his girlfriend, I looked around him and noticed something……he only has a flat backpack on the ground. I looked back at him with a serious face, and his smile ceased as he also saw the change of my face. “Umm, do you only have a backpack with you for this trip?” I asked. The guy’s hand rose and covered his opened mouth.. “Ohhhhhhh~~~” he paused, looked down, and started saying what he was thinking “I have my backpack but my flight is canceled…..and my….” He stormed back upstairs and my train came. (I hope he turned out okay)

2.There is a Lady Who Want Your Seat…

I took an Asian airline for my trip, not gonna name which one in this case. I was sitting at the very last row on the airplane. Once everyone was buckled up, couple flight attendants came to our row, started talking to another girl who on the other side. With very broken English, one of the flight attendants said “Ma’am, there is a lady in front, umm, she want your seat” the girl eyes widened “But I checked in with this seat number!” Flight attendant “Ummm, umm, there is this old lady, and she would like to have this seat, her seat is in the front, it is a middle seat, would you like to change?” The girl looked confused “Um, no, this is my seat.” The flight attendent gave up, left as the flight was about to embark on its journey. After 10 minutes, the flight attedant came back “We have found another aisle seat, would that be ok?” The girl was a little agitated, but at least it is another aisle seat. “Fine” she said.

Ladies and gentlemen. After the girl left, there was never an old lady who came to sit at that seat. Do you know why?

Many airlines have their own superstition or “flight rules”. Most of the time there will be at least one empty seat or an empty last row for:1. Flight attendants to rest 2. Emergency seating or 3. Worshiping the deceased.

From what I heard, if it was really true that an old lady wanted the seat, it could be because an old lady who was on that flight sometime ago has passed away on that seat, so they keep that seat vacant when it is not a full house. I heard from a talk show years ago that some Chinese and Southeast Asian airlines will leave a cup of water/drink on the desk of the empty seat if there  was indeed someone who passed away there as a sign of respect. Of course more than often, when flight attendants try to move you to another place, it is probably because someone paid the extra money for your spot and they want to grant that VIP’s wish (It happened to me before, I was only in high school and had no idea what happened until I literally got kicked out of my seat and also downgraded >.<).

3. They are Better Smokers Than Drinkers…

(Photo: Smoking room at train station platform)

I spent some time with Japanese university students while in Japan. Most of them are barely the legal age for drinking in Japan (20), so they are scared to death when upperclassman orders them to drink at parties. However, when I was walking around the school during break….I saw an scenery that would never happen here in USA: about 40-50 students and teachers standing right outside the building, each with a cigarette in their hands. Coming from a country that heavily criticizes smoking, this scene was pretty shocking to me. Later I also found many smoking stations/wooden shed around the school like behind classrooms and dorms too. The Japanese students asked me if I smoke, and I said no….they looked disappointed. X_x (I sensed the peer pressure at that point). As I have mentioned in my previous post, most train stations here have smoking area, and most restaurants here allows smoking indoors too (no one smokes at ramen shops though).

4. Who are Your Best Friend?

Most of the time in Japan, when people know you are a foreigner, they tend to be shy and avoid you because they do not know how to speak English. Not this time when I was taking a train in Tokyo. It was my first night, and I transferred to a JR city train to get to my hotel. It was super crowded and I was nervous because people were blocking my view of the train map on the wall. I was not sure when I should squeeze myself to the front of the door to get off when 3 old business men suddenly tapped my shoulder. One of them use his best English “Hey hey young girl, you not Japanese huh.” I told them I was from America. “Ohhh, good, I went to America before for business” and the 2nd guy was like “Yea, he knows more English” they started laughing. I took my chance and ask them which stop is before Akihabara (my stop), and the guy who can speak English point at his colleague “He is getting off at Akihabara, you can can follow him….don’t worry, he is not a bad guy, just don’t follow him home” XDDD That definitely made me laugh and felt less nervous ~

Any interesting or memorable moments from your travel recently?